Signs, symptoms and what to do in the event of hypothermia.
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Written by Sonder Health
Updated over a week ago

In a medical emergency call triple zero (000) for an ambulance in Australia or triple one (111) for an ambulance in New Zealand.

The DRSABCD Action Plan is the first step when providing first aid. Use this to assess the immediate situation. DRSABCD Danger > Response > Send for help > Airway > Breathing > CPR > Defibrillation.

• DO NOT rub affected areas.
• DO NOT use radiant heat such as fire or electric heaters.
• DO NOT give alcohol.

Mild signs and symptoms
• Feeling cold
• Shivering
• Clumsiness and slurred speech
• Apathy and irrational behaviour

Severe signs and symptoms
• Shivering ceases
• Difficult to find pulse
• Slow heart rate
• Loss of consciousness

What to do
1. Follow DRSABCD.
2. Move the patient to a warm, dry place.
3. Help the patient to lie down in a comfortable position. Handle the patient as gently as possible, avoiding excess activity and movement.
4. Remove any wet clothing from the patient.
5. Place the patient between blankets or in a sleeping bag, and wrap them in an emergency blanket.
6. Cover the patient’s head to maintain body heat.
7. Give the patient warm drinks if they are conscious. Do not give alcohol.
8. Place hot water bottles, heat packs and other sources of external heat directly on the patient’s neck, armpits and groin. Be careful to avoid burns. Body-to-body contact may be used if other means of rewarming are not available.
9. If hypothermia is severe, call 000 (AUS) or 111 (NZ) for an ambulance.
10. Stay with the patient until medical aid arrives.

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All content in Sonder's Help Centre is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Information originally published by St John Ambulance Australia.

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